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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The World Health Organization (WHO).
They’re the ones who are supposed to protect us — and the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the Ebola fight. But are they dropping the ball?
That’s the conclusion of a damning new report on the WHO. In a nutshell, according to Bloomberg:
“Poor communication, a lack of leadership and underfunding plagued the World Health Organization’s initial response to the Ebola outbreak, allowing the disease to spiral out of control.
“The agency’s reaction was hobbled by a paucity of notes from experts in the field; $500,000 in support for the response that was delayed by bureaucratic hurdles; medics who weren’t deployed because they weren’t issued visas; and contact-tracers who refused to work on concern they wouldn’t get paid.”
The story goes on to note that the WHO didn’t sponsor a meeting of health ministers in the area, or put a regional coordination center into place, for three months after the initial outbreak in Guinea back in March. While cases rose to 500 in June, and continued climbing to almost 3,000, the WHO was still not as aggressive as outside experts wanted them to be. Now the tally is at 9,000 … and still climbing.
Some 85 percent of nurses say they haven’t been provided with the proper instruction on how to use protective clothing.
Here in the U.S., we’re learning that health-care workers with direct contact with the initial Dallas patient Thomas Eric Duncan or his infected tissue samples or fluids have been out flying on commercial airlines, taking vacations on cruise ships, and otherwise traveling far from home. Congress dragged Thomas Frieden, the CDC director, before a committee yesterday to explain the apparent missteps his organization and front-line health care workers have made to date.
Several members want him to ban travel from all the affected countries in West Africa. He won’t, saying people would cross borders anyway and fly here from neighboring African nations.
Meanwhile, his agency allowed nurse Amber Vinson to fly back and forth to Cleveland from Dallas — despite the fact she notified officials that she had a fever. The catch? It was 99.5 degrees, below the 100.4 threshold the CDC uses for Ebola identification. Nurses have also complained that they’re getting inadequate training on the use of protective gear and patient handling.
One University of Minnesota epidemiologist, Michael Osterholm, described the virus response to the Washington Post this way:
“Let’s acknowledge one thing: We’re making this up as we go.”
|“I’ve been fairly optimistic that we will lick this thing.”|
I’ve been fairly optimistic that we will lick this thing. But comments like that don’t exactly inspire confidence. The Obama Administration tried to gain some control of the news cycle by appointing an experienced political operator, Ron Klain, as an “Ebola Czar” today. But frankly, that seems like more of a glorified PR move rather than anything substantive.
We’ll have to see how things go over the weekend with possible new infections outside of Texas. We’ll have to see whether more Dallas health care workers come down with symptoms now that we’re nearing the 21-day window since Duncan showed up sick.
Plus, we’ll have to monitor how average Americans react when it comes to traveling, going out to eat and shop, etc. That will show whether the Ebola crisis is intensifying, or calming down — and that, in turn, will determine whether the markets continue to freak out or find their equilibrium.
Now I want to give you the floor, so to speak. What do you think about the CDC’s and WHO’s response to the Ebola outbreak? Are they on top of things, or are they screwing up? Are you confident the spread of the virus will be contained, or are you worried it’s going to become a much more widespread outbreak? And how are you altering your daily routine — if at all?
Here’s the link to the comment section — please do join the discussion if you can!
|Our Readers Speak|
There are quite a few discussions going on right now at the Money and Markets website — on everything from oil to stocks to Ebola to economic stimulus.
Reader Guy believes there’s something more going on behind the scenes when it comes to recent moves in the dollar and oil. His take:
“It’s all about saving the USD. They made a deal with the Saudis … the price of oil collapses (right after the Saudis shorted it) and the dollar soars. Commodities across the board tank … and once again … the dollar is king.
“Of course at the expense of a ‘new and unexpected downturn in the economy’… which sets us up for QE4 … as if it will work this time. If at first you don’t succeed …”
Thanks for the comments, Guy. It really is hard to believe these Fed “wizards” are talking about going back to the same program that has failed them repeatedly over the past five years.
Reader Tommr weighed in on the Ebola response, saying: “The Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, was said to be ‘in isolation’ and yet it was reported that some 75 people were exposed to him in his room! The number of people exposed should have been very limited AND all of those people should have been QUARANTINED for a few weeks to make sure they were safe!”
Yes, Tommr, it is hard to believe so many people were interacting with him. Makes you wonder what kind of training these people had.
Meanwhile, Reader Steve O. talked about what he would consider to be effective economic stimulus: “Yes, it is okay to print new money, but spend it on infrastructure projects: roads, rail, airports, bridges, new housing. Construction companies hire and the new money eventually cycles back through the economy into taxation to extinguish the initial outlay. At such times, investments in construction industries are a good bet, too.”
But judging from the comments Reader Norm made, I don’t think he would be convinced that would do much good. His take:
“Ebola. Iraq. Syria. ISIS. Al-Qaeda. Illegals. Underemployment. Low wages. Add these all up and the total is NO CONFIDENCE by voters, investors, and workers. This artificial market will go the way of 2008 and 2001; it’s just a matter of time, probably when the Middle East blows sky-high or before.”
So is Norm on track? Are we going to see a huge “flush” in the markets? Let me know your thoughts here. For my part, I’ve gotten increasingly concerned about the markets over the past month or two, so am definitely adopting an even more cautious than usual approach to investing.
|Other Developments of the Day|
How do you say “bank bailout” in Chinese? I’m not sure, but that’s what the government is planning to launch, according to the Wall Street Journal. Twenty national and regional banks will get a 200 billion yuan ($32.8 billion) injection of money, part of a government plan to spur more lending in sectors like housing and small business.
On the economic front, housing starts rose 6.3 percent to 1.02 million in September. That was slightly ahead of the average estimate. Building permit issuance rose a more subdued 1.5 percent.
It’s official: The San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals will do battle in this year’s World Series.
Sadly, my Red Sox were eliminated from the hunt long ago — and my wife’s Cubs? Well, they haven’t been to the Series since around the time the airplane was invented! LOL. But you gotta’ love ’em anyway!
Until next time,
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